Quinn, Rodriguez among players wearing protective collar at Women's World Cup

Quinn, Rodriguez among players wearing protective collar at Women's World Cup
With more awareness of the neurological problems that footballers often develop as a result of playing the game, several players at the Women's World Cup have taken to using concussion collars.
2 min read
28 July, 2023
Canada's Quinn is one of the players seen sporting the collars during the World Cup [Getty]

Several players at the Women's World Cup are among the latest athletes spotted wearing concussion collars, which are intended to protect the brain during head impact.

Canada's Quinn and Rocky Rodriguez of Costa Rica are sporting what is called a Q-Collar and looks like a headband but worn around the back of the neck.

Concussions have hurt Australia at the global tournament, with Mary Fowler and Aivi Luik missing their 2-1 loss to Nigeria on Thursday after they sustained minor concussions in training two days earlier.

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According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which authorised marketing of the Q-Collar in 2021, when players experience head trauma, the brain moves unrestrained in the skull, known as "slosh."

The FDA said the collar "provides compressive force to the internal jugular veins, which in turn increases the blood volume in the skull's blood vessels."

The NFL's Shaq Thomson of the Carolina Panthers and Tony Pollard of the Dallas Cowboys are among other athletes who wear the collar.

While the FDA warned against wearing the collar as a replacement for other protective gear, it is understandable soccer players would seek out added protection given the results of studies on long-term brain impairment.

Researchers recently found evidence suggesting that repetitive heading of balls during a professional soccer career is associated with a higher risk of cognitive impairment in later life, according to a study commissioned by England's Football Association (FA).

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Failure to protect players

The independent research study, jointly commissioned by the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), was conducted by the University of Nottingham and spoke to over 450 retired professional footballers over the age of 45.

The first findings of the study, released in June, established that former footballers were 3.46 times more likely to have neurodegenerative diseases.

In April, the total number of claimants from a group of former soccer and rugby players suffering from neurological impairments rose to 380 as they joined a class-action lawsuit against their respective governing bodies.

The players allege that the sports' governing bodies failed to protect them from concussion and non-concussion injuries that caused various disorders including early onset dementia, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and motor neurone disease.

The FA has been looking to mitigate against potential health risks and dementia, and last year granted approval to run a trial to remove deliberate heading in matches across the Under-12 level.